From a Waste Collector to a Businessman: A Biographical Study in Southern Brazil

Monday, 16 July 2018
Débora RINALDI, Universidade Pontifícia Católica do Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
This study focuses on the formation process of private waste collection and separation companies, founded and managed by waste collectors in southern Brazil. Based on the biographical case reconstruction method, I analyze the institutionalizing process, starting from the practice of an individual waste collector, and culminating in the foundation of a small private collection and separation company. This life history study explores the way waste collectors in southern Brazil interpret their work, and how this interpretation is constituted. The case presented here represents a type of waste collector which stands out for its degree of professionalization, resulting in the foundation of a company. The study discusses the theme of work and income among the popular classes from the perspective of the sociology of knowledge as developed by Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann, especially their concept of institutionalization. In this sense, the type presented here reflects how the labor experience of a collector, especially in the informal labor market, as well as other biographical experiences, contributed to the constitution and management of his waste collection and separation company. A discussion of the interrelations between biographical and organizational experiences is thus central to this study. Concerning the methods used, biographical case reconstruction is a method of data analysis developed by sociologist Gabriele Rosenthal, in Germany, from the perspective of interpretive sociology. In this way, the biographical approach used here allows both an analysis of the socialization processes experienced by my interviewee, as well as an understanding of the mechanisms of institutionalization and legitimation of waste collection practices in the reality in which this individual is inserted.